It was a very nice vacation, and yes, we windsurfed. Well, not me, I had some sitting around to do, but I watched, and volunteered to join the canoe rescue/towing operation when it was necessary.
It was a great trip, and I got to go to the flea market, and knit for hours, and read a few books, and I’ll tell you about that later. I’d like to update you on the water situation, first.
As you have gathered, I visited a lake in WI. (See above.) While at this lake, I stay in a tent, and I gather with my family in a one-room cabin, having a fireplace, a few electric lights, a food fridge and a drink fridge, and 3700 decks of cards. We sunk a well ourselves in the 90s, but that’s as close to running water as we get. Bathing, when it is done, is done in lake water, and generally directly in the lake. We did build a shower, just a wooden frame wrapped in privacy tarps with a trash can o’ water and a little tube and pump inside.
Given that we’ve been vacationing as a family on this lake since 1940, we have a vested interest in keeping it nice. We’ve raised squads of cousins to pull out encroaching lily pads, and just this summer an Uncle engineered a muck-sucker to clean up our swimming area. The Auntie police have been making sure we cousins were using biodegradable soap and shampoo for generations. Fortunately, given all this hippie stuff I’m into now, the shampoo I’m using at home is biodegradable already.
New rule: If I wouldn’t put it in my lake, I won’t put it in my shower drain.
It all gets into the water supply again sometime, and while those chemicals might be great for the bounce and lustre and whatever of my hair, fish don’t have hair. Neither do helpful aquatic plants. Biodegradable materials are ones that are made to break down completely into relatively harmless parts when it gets exposed to organic matter for a while. They’re usually made of more natural ingredients- if it’s harmless to begin with, it’s easier to break it up harmlessly- and lots of them don’t do so well at actually cleaning your head nicely. Finding the biodegradable ones that do clean you to your desired degree is the trick. Herbal Essences used to be biodegradable, at least- haven’t used them in years, so I don’t know now- and camping stores usually carrying mysteriously opaque bottles of some safe all-purpose soaps.
I’m using Kiss My Face Green Tea and Lime Shampoo and Conditioner, and it smells nice and leaves my hair clean and nice-feeling after (add shampoo ad adjectives as you wish- silky? full of body? some other ridiculousness? Whatever. It looks nice, which is no mean feat after a couple days in a tent). It’s got a little 100% biodegradable label on the back, which is reassuring, and about 90% of the ingredients were at some point plants. It feels a bit different than other shampoos- it won’t get as sudsy as they will, but that doesn’t seem to hinder the magic. Plus, suds are an indication of soapy chemicals- not what you want in a cherished family water body, or a local stream, or the ocean…
So check for the biodegradable label next time you find a new shampoo. The switch to one with fewer chemicals might be startling at first- and indeed, many of these earth-friendlier hair things aren’t so much hair-friendlier- but if you don’t, the Aunties won’t let you in the lake.